WATERTOWN — Keynote speaker Sarah V. Compo urged young leaders who joined the ninth annual 20 under 40 class at a celebratory luncheon Friday at Hilton Garden Inn to never fear asking for what they need to advance their careers.
Whether they want a raise, promotion, or new job, Ms. Compo, a city councilwoman and 20 under 40 alumna herself, said the group of young professionals must initiate the conversation despite any of their apprehensions.
When she was studying at SUNY Geneseo, Ms. Compo said she secured an internship with NBC’s Today Show by asking the program manager for an interview. Her willingness to ask for what she needed for her professional growth allowed her to climb the ladder until earning her current position as chief of staff for State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.
The young leaders must also remember to give thanks for any opportunities, she said, perhaps by sending handwritten notes.
“Have I been nervous about asking for what I want throughout the years? Absolutely,” she said, “but I’ve always kept in mind that on the other side of my own fears was the possibility of something greater for myself.”
Dozens of friends, family members and colleagues joined the newest class of professionals at the luncheon, which was hosted by 20 under 40 program creator NNY Business, a magazine owned by the Johnson Newspaper Corp., and listened to Ms. Compo’s advice.
Many young professionals like Ms. Compo invest their time toward helping their communities, but when faced with nonconstructive mockery, Ms. Compo said they must “tune out the haters” while making a difference. The city councilwoman said after taking office, she has been called “a ditz, a puppet, a phony, among other names.”
“I’ve learned to listen to constructive criticism from those who have my best interest at heart, and to tune out the negative commentary from those who aren’t in the arena along with me,” she said. “As you strive to make a difference, I encourage you all to do the same; to keep going and to ignore those who would rather criticize than join you in your efforts to do good.”
The selection committee chose members of the newest 20 under 40 class from 123 nominations for 80 nominees.
Jessica Caprara, 32, president of J. Murphy & Associates, said she was surprised when she first learned she would join the 2019 class of 20 under 40, and called it a recognition of her success. She said she advises aspiring leaders to never give up on their goals.
“It’s a wicked achievement for a woman of her age,” said her father, car salesman William G. Caprara. “She’s worked very hard in her position in the last few years.”
As a journalist, Jeff Nelson, assistant news director at WWNY-TV 7 news, said he never anticipated recognition for his work and community involvement, so receiving an invite into the 20 under 40 class shocked him. He also said he encourages other young professionals to work hard at what inspires their passion, and remember that growth is a continuous journey.
“It’s really exciting. It’s a great recognition,” said Eric Krebs, general manager of the station. “Not only does he do on-air work, he also is a huge player in our behind the scenes operations, and we’re very proud of him.”
Other members of the 2019 20 under 40 class include Cassandra Buell, Lewis County Department of Planning; Jessica Carpenter, Keystone Lumber & Building Supply; Anthony Curley, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.; Kraig Everard, WPBS-TV; Joshua Fitzgerald, Lake Effect Tech; Jessica Frerichs, New York Air Brake; Alex Hazard, WWTI-ABC 50, and Chad Hirschey, Buckingham Hardware and Great Outdoors.
Also included in the class are Shawn McCormick, Hilton Garden Inn Watertown/1000 Islands; Mitch McCormick, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County; Dave Missert Jr., A.J. Missert Inc.; Zachary Monroe, Boys & Girls Club of Massena; Alicia Ruperd, Jefferson County Community Services; Jonathan Schell, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust; Nicole Smith, Thousand Islands Battlefield Betties Roller Derby; Heather Spezzano, Jefferson County SPCA; Melissa Tousley, Tunes 92.5 & SM Photography, and Megan Whitney, Kinney Drugs.